by Kieran Mather
The immediate future of Glasgow Rangers, or “Newco” as you may have heard them referred to recently will be decided on 4th July. Not by a committee or a board but by the other clubs in the Scottish Premier League. This may be democratic, but is it fair? Motherwell passed on the decision and allowed their fans to vote. Ok, I get the logic, it’s their team, it’s the league they play in so let them decide. But is it really just that the fate of another club could be decided partially by a set of fans?
No disrespect to Motherwell fans out there but they will not all understand the implications of demoting Rangers to the Scottish Third Division; what damage that will have on revenue for all SPL teams, what Sky is prepared to put back in. The only advantage I can see is that the 2nd spot in the league is wide open and could lead to Champion’s League football. It’s a tough call and personally I would spoil my ballot paper with a note to those in charge – “Strap a pair on”
It’s emerged slowly over the last few days though who is doing what. Rangers in order to be allowed back into the SPL need a majority of 8-4 (I have no idea why this isn’t 7-5) but if the word of every SPL club and chairman can be trusted then Rangers’ fans will have resigned themselves to playing in the Third tier of Scottish football despite winning over 50 league titles. Scottish clubs Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Inverness CT were the latest to state they will vote against the “Newco” along with Dundee United, Hearts and Hibernian. I would also strongly suspect the fans’ vote at Motherwell will go against Rangers adding up to 7 clubs voting no.
Celtic haven’t given any indication as to where they are going but as much as the fans would detest the thought the board might yet fight to save their bitter rivals as it is undoubtedly in Celtic’s interest to keep Rangers in the division.
So last week’s warning shot fired by Charles Green hasn’t unsettled anyone at all. The story he managed to get into the papers was that he would buy English League 1 club Bury and rename and locate them with the newly created Bury Rangers playing at Ibrox against the likes of Crawley Town, Shrewsbury and Yeovil. This hasn’t had the intended effect or left an impression with other SPL clubs and it appears they would happily watch them go. It was an idle threat more to the point but the idea was to make other clubs think what it would be like without Rangers, that they could be successful anywhere and they didn’t need the SPL. It is in fact the other way round.
It looks like Green’s bluff has been called and the famous club the consortium took over with the 50,000 capacity stadium, talented players, array of silverware and a fan base that stretches the length of Britain could well be in the Iron Bru Scottish Third Division.
It’s very hard to venture a guess at what the future holds for Rangers, the only thing we’re certain of is the fans will still flock to sing along to Roy Orbison’s “Penny Arcade” and they’ll sing it louder than ever. We know this for certain and little more. We also know this isn’t their fault, the fans aren’t the cause of this but it is them who are being punished. The players are using the “Newco” situation to walk out of their contracts, the whole administration process cut a lot of backroom staff out of a job, not many people are left at Ibrox or Murray Park who was there when Craig White first took over (incidentally the Scottish authorities are now investigating his purchase of the club.) The only constants are the fans and so far Ally McCoist who is now in charge of a sinking ship.
Nobody could have predicted what happened in Glasgow last season; the news that emerged on February 14th shocked football. Scottish football holds a very firm and consistent record at dealing with team’s financial foul play and misconduct and this looks to be upheld next week.
Whatever happens on 4th July, this won’t be the end of the whole saga I’m sure. They’ll be talk of an appeal either way but the one thing Rangers as a club need is an end to this whole sorry situation.